T’HE PRACTICE OF THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST
X.-HOW MUCH JESUS CHRIST DESERVES TO BE LOVED BY US ON ACCOUNT OF THE LOVE HE HAS SHOWN US IN INSTITUTING THE MOST HOLY SACRAMENT OF THE ALTAR.
In order to excite us to receive Him in the Holy Communion, Jesus not only exhorts us to do so by many invitations-Come, eat my bread; and drink the wine which I have mingled for you-(Prov. ix. 5); Eat, O friends, and drink-(Cant. v. I)-speaking of this Heavenly Bread and Wine-but He even gives us a formal precept: Take ye, and eat; this is my body. And more than this; that we may go and receive Him, He entices us with the promise of Paradise. He that eateth my flesh hath everlasting life-(John vi. 55). He that eateth this bread shall live for ever-(John vi. 59). And, still more, He threatens us with hell, and exclusion from Paradise if we refuse to communicate. Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man you shall not have life in you-(John vi. 54). These invitations, these promises, these threats, all proceed from the great desire He has to come to us in this Sacrament. But why is it that Jesus so desires that we should receive Him in the Holy Communion? Here is the reason. St. Denis says that love always sighs after and tends to union; and so also says St. Thomas: “Lovers desire to become one.” Friends who really love each other would like to be so united as to become one person. Now this is what the infinite love of God for man has done; that He should not only give us Himself in the eternal kingdom, but even in this life permit men to possess Him in the most intimate union, by giving them Himself, whole and entire, under the appearance of bread in this Sacrament. He stands as though behind a wall, and looks, as it were, through a closed lattice: Behold he standeth behind our wall, looking through the windows, looking through the lattices-(Cant. ii. 9}. It is true we do not see Him; but He sees us, and is there really present: He is present in order that we may possess Him: but He hides Himself from us to make us desire Him: and as long as we have not reached our true country, Jesus desires to give Himself wholly to us, and to remain united with us.
He could not satisfy His love by giving Himself to the human race by His Incarnation and by His Passion, dying for all men upon the Cross; but desired to find out a way whereby He might give Himself entirely to each one of us in particular; and for this end He instituted the Sacrament of the Altar in order to, unite Himself wholly to each: He that eateth my flesh, He said, abideth in me and I in him-(John vi. 57). In the Holy Communion Jesus unites Himself to the soul, and the soul to Jesus; and this is not a union of mere affection, but it is a true and real union. Hence St. Francis. de Sales says: “In no other action can the Saviour be considered “more tender or more loving than in this, in which He annihilates Himself, so to say, and reduces Himself to food, in order to penetrate our souls and to unite Himself to the hearts of His faithful.” St. John Chrysostom says that Jesus Christ, through the ardent love He bore us, desired so to unite Himself with us as to become one and the same thing with us. “He mingled Himself with us that we might be one thing; for this is the property of those who ardently love.”